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Video Games & Math: A Survival Guide!

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It has been awhile!

Yes, I have to say that it has been a few months since I have posted.  I can truly say that it’s not due to inactivity.  A few injuries in my family caused my time to be completely redirected, but now that everything seems to be getting back on track, I am attempting to get back on schedule with my blog posts.

But first, an update!

So, math? lol.  In a previous post, Math and Game Design, I talked about my fears around not getting enough Math in my curriculum in school.  I found out the deficit was due to how my major was coded and if I wanted to get more Math, I would have to change my major.  I did so without hesitation.  My major originally was a double major in Computer Science and Graphic Design.  I thought this was a good route to follow considering my desired future in making video games.  But then I learned that my school cut out a lot of the math options in order to accommodate the double major status.  Now that I have that situated, Calculus I and II, Discrete Math, Linear Algebra, and Differential Equations are all part of my near future! Well, I actually completed Calculus I already and that was a challenge, but I did well!

Somehow, Math made me a cave dwelling loner…

The last Math class I took prior to Calculus I was Trig in 2001.  Yes, I’m old.  I’ve always excelled in Math without effort.  I took AP Calculus in high school and although I placed in Calculus II on my placement test, I still decided to only take Trig because it was the minimum requirement for my major at the time (I was a tad lazy back then).  I got a B in the class, even though I only came to class for quizzes and exams.  To further demonstrate my laziness, I had a friend sign me in for attendance and turn in my home assignments.  I mean, 8am classes are just evil.  Anyway, the true point is that not only had I not taken a Math class in 14 years (damn), I also did not put much effort into the class that I did take.  To say that I was a bit intimidated to take Calculus after such a gap in time, is a monumental understatement.  I spent HOURS reading, watching YouTube, doing practice problems, pulling my hair out, and having mini heart attacks while waiting for grades to be posted.  But in the end, I feel as though it was all worth it.  I mean, who cares if I growled at people who came within 10 feet of me, or that I locked myself in my room while I solved problems that took up both sides of the paper?  The point was that I was figuring it all out…

League of Legends… My saving grace…

I found that breaking up my studies with a wholesome (lol) game of LoL was really beneficial to me.  I could virtually shoot things, yell at my monitor, giggle when I killed things and then get back to my studies.  I also played my favorite streamers in the background while I studied and often the ambient noises of game play or hearing a funny joke would make me giggle and I would relax significantly.  On too many occasions to count, when I returned to my math problems, the answers that I couldn’t figure out were so obvious to me, all I needed was to step away for a bit.  What better way to step away than video games 🙂

What’s next?

This session, I’m taking Discrete Math, Computer Graphics, and Calculus II.  Three classes that are drenched in Math and I’m actually looking forward to it.  After taking Calculus I, I rediscovered what I had loved so much about Math so long before.  The primary concept being how many applications of Mathematics there are in the world.  Math is everywhere, and the more I study and appreciate it, the more I see it in my every day life.  Although my course load this session is likely to keep me a cave-dwelling loner, I promise to leave my cave to share more of my story!

TL;DR

Math is yummy.  If you’re into programming, don’t be afraid to take those extra math classes, so far I have seen just how every single math concept I’ve learned can be applied to Computer Science!  Also, play video games.

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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Programming

 

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Math and Game Design

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My epic quest to encounter more math…

Math, really?  Yes! I have come to the point in my studies that I feel the need to brush up on my math skills.  I have been reading many resources and on multiple occasions I have discovered that a pitfall some may succumb to is not taking enough math when pursuing a degree in Computer Science.  Apart from this research, many of the books I’ve been reading mention that although an extensive background in math is not necessarily a requirement, it helps.  Some of these resources even add that the better programmers have backgrounds in Mathematics as well.

Well, that’s fine and dandy but what now?

I am in the situation where I have fulfilled the Math requirement for my degree, but I took these classes over 10 years ago (oh boy I feel old).  In addition to this, my double major is already getting a bit pricey so I do not want to take any additional credits that won’t go directly to my degree requirement.  My solution? MIT Open Courseware…

What is MIT Open Courseware exactly? 

A few posts ago, I wrote about MOOCS, massive online open courses.  MIT makes a huge chunk of their courses available, and many of them have assessments, audio/video lectures, and final exams so that you can test yourself on concepts and retention.  Although you do not receive credit for taking the courses, who can put a price on gaining knowledge? For me, it is not about receiving credit, it is about brushing up on concepts and developing a mental muscle that will ultimately make me a better programmer in the long run.

What classes will you take?

Here’s the thing… lol.  I have this thing where I am a learning junky.  I am that girl that can not sleep because she has to read one more chapter of that coding book (like last night).  I am saying this because once I started researching which classes I want to take, my list grew from about 3 or 4 courses and now it’s at 23 lol.  Just to put that into perspective, the number of classes required to get a full 4 year MIT degree is about 35-36 courses.

Once I started browsing, I said to myself, “Self, why not learn a bit more while you are at it?”.  Why limit myself to just learning some Math, why not see what all of the hype is about?  What started as supplementing my learning with Math, turned into supplementing my learning in general.  The mentality behind my decisions were to choose courses that I:

1) know I will need some extra practice with.  In these situations, I am already taking the equivalent at my University, but I want to take the MIT OCW version to solidify my learning.

2) fit the requirements of MIT students.  I took a look at the Math requirements for a Software Engineering degree at MIT and found most of the equivalent classes. I also added a few courses that interest me in general and have nothing to do with any particular structure.

Yeah, but the courses?

Here are the courses that I came up with.  Remember this was catered to me specifically based on my interests, the classes that I’m taking at University, and the requirements of a MIT Software Engineering degree.

Ok here they are (in no particular order):

  • Intro to Computer Science and Programming
  • Computation Structures
  • Elements of Software Construction
  • Introduction to Algorithms
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Language Engineering
  • Probabilistic Systems Analysis
  • Mathematics for Computer Science
  • Design and Analysis of Algorithms
  • Practical Programming in C
  • Intro to C Memory Management & C++ OOP
  • Effective Programming in C and C++
  • Physics I
  • Physics II
  • Calculus I
  • Calculus II
  • Differential Equations
  • Linear Algebra
  • Computational Methods of Scientific Programming
  • Logic I
  • Modal Logic
  • Decisions, Games and Rational Choice

Um… that’s a lot…

Welp, it is, especially in addition to work, a full time school schedule, and a game dev internship.  From now until I get my masters, I have quite a few years, so I will use these resources to supplement my learning on a more structured bases.  Right now, I already use MOOCs to supplement my learning, but now I will approach it from a different angle.  Instead of looking for materials to help me with the classes I’m taking, I will use MOOCs to help me learn tangential topics that will help me in the long run.  I believe it’s a win-win in my opinion.

Mmmmm Yummy Math… 

All in all, I’m extremely excited about this new adventure.  I have always believed that knowledge is power and MIT OCW is just another tool to gain knowledge with a bit of a challenge added to it!

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2014 in Programming

 

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